Alfresco Thinking - Outdoor Play
Unfortunately, the days when children played out on the street all day are long gone. For many children today – especially families without gardens – outdoor play only happens on trips to the park or on holidays.
The onus is therefore on holiday park owners and operators to ensure the play facilities they offer are the best they can be.
“Children between the ages of three and 12 are still the ones who dictate their family’s holidays and day-out destinations,” says David Robinson of World of Rides. With that in mind – and unless you’re specifically targeting adults – your holiday park should always have an outdoor play area.”
Gary Wallis, UK Marketing Manager for HAGS, elaborates: “As any commercial operator will tell you, happy entertained children mean happy and relaxed parents! An exciting and challenging play area gives children somewhere to let off steam and make new friends. “Investing in play equipment is a great way to show visitors that your establishment caters for families with young children who want to be entertained and have fun. Parents can explore your ‘grown-up’ environment, while the children will stay occupied with fun play solutions that stimulate their imagination and challenge them physically.”
External play areas are no longer an after-thought but are fast becoming essential in all redevelopments, as operators understand that they are a key driver and draw card for families. More and more business owners are now beginning to invest in a well designed play area to not only attract customers, but to retain them for longer and providing a greater return on investment. “Good play facilities make all the difference to a site,” adds Cathy Craddock from Outdoor Play People. “Just putting in something to tick a box is all well and good, but with some thought you can create a real talking point and asset to your park.”
Outdoor play can take many forms, from conventional playgrounds and rides to more nature-based facilities. “If you invest in a good quality play area and really think about the design, you shouldn’t have to change your play areas very often at all,” continues Cathy. “If you look after it, it will serve you longer.” World of Rides’ David Robinson again: “While static play equipment may need to be replaced or refurbished on almost an annual basis on heavy footfall holiday parks, battery rides can still be earning very high incomes a decade or two later.” He stresses, however, that only certain rides and equipment are suitable for outdoor play. World of Rides’ extra low voltage battery cars, boats and trikes are obviously suitable, but any higher voltage equipment to be used outdoors must be fitted with a residual circuit device. All rides manufactured in the UK and Europe must also carry the CE mark, which imported rides from the rest of the world do not always comply with.
“Fully interactive rides are still the most popular children’s attraction, as young guests and visitors want to be in full control of everything their ride is doing,” continues David. “Our bumper cars and boats are particularly popular, along with our driving schools, with a number of holiday parks operating a multiple number of tracks of the same or differing models.” The company’s appealing designs and its use of the latest technology means it now has the most popular range of battery rides across the UK and Europe, with over seventy models to choose from.